Capital letters

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Capital letters in English are used to show the importance of particular words.

They are always used for proper nouns (people’s names) ; at the start of sentences ; and for places and events of a public nature.

  • He entered the room, accompanied by the actress Christine Bowman.
  • John wrote a letter to the Bishop of Chester.
  • We will visit Sherwood Forest at Easter this year.


Capital letters are always placed at the beginning of a sentence.

They are also used to indicate names and titles, as well as holidays and well-known public places.

Don’t use continuous capitals in titles and headings. It looks unsightly.

Capitals are used to denote the names of particular or special things.

days of the week Wednesday, Friday
places East Anglia
rivers the river Mersey
buildings the Tate Gallery
institutions the Catholic Church
firms British Aerospace
organisations the National Trust
months of the year April, September

However, when such terms are used as adjectives or in a general sense, no capital is required:

the King James Bible but a biblical reference

Manchester University but a university education

the present Government but governments since 1967

Capitals are used when describing intellectual movements or periods of history:

Freudian Platonism
Cartesian the Middle Ages
the Reformation The Enlightenment

They are also used in the titles of books, plays, films, newspapers, magazines, songs, and works of art in general.

The normal convention is to capitalise the first word and any nouns or important terms. Smaller words such as ‘and’, ‘of’, and ‘the’ are left uncapitalised:

A View from the Bridge

The Mayor of Casterbridge

North by Northwest

The Marriage of Figaro

Notice the difference between the same term used in a general and a particular sense:

The children’s Uncle Fred is seventy.

Their uncle is the oldest in the family.


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Capital letters in English
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